Posts tagged ‘Questionmark News & Events’

We’ll Kick Off the Questionmark European User Conference at Manchester United’s Old Trafford!

imageSometime things get surreal!

As I kid most of my friends were soccer fans or should I say football fans! I didn’t support any particular team but I did see Chelsea, Arsenal and Crystal Palace games live and saw many more on TV.

I never quite made it to see Old Trafford – but now, thanks to Questionmark, I will!


The 2009 Questionmark European Users Conference is coming up next month and this year we’re holding an evening event actually in the Old Trafford and I’m excited about it! 

Whether or not you’re a Manchester United fan, the Old Trafford is one of England’s most impressive stadiums. It’s going to be fun and I’ll be a little humbled by the experience.  Most importantly I’ll be able to share the experience with customers, partners and employees which is going to make it a night to remember. 

Hopefully I’ll see you there! There is still time to register at:: 



August 27, 2009 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

Questionmark Tokyo, Japan Briefing

Questionmark 2009 Tokyo Briefing

With Questionmark Live being released in Japanese last week we saw an increase turnout for the Japanese briefing in Tokyo with 80 attendees.

July 12, 2009 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Questionmark Live – Story Behind the Story

image After working for months on Questionmark Live it’s wonderful to have completed the alpha, beta and release processes and today witness the birth.  Questionmark will be doing the press releases and product announcements so I don’t need to duplicate that here, but here is some background that you might appreciate.

In 2006 I read an article in Wired magazine by Jeff Howe where he coined the word Crowdsourcing.  The ideas quickly resonated with us and we started discussing ideas with customers on how to enable crowdsourcing of their assessment items. It became quickly apparent that the technology wasn’t particularly difficult but the business model was: they wanted free for an unlimited number of authors!

For someone with lots of mouths to feed ‘free’ was a challenge until we realized the tremendous impact of a great, usable and free tool! So after a couple of stiff drinks we got over that issue. In one real work test recently we harvested ~1,000 items from 40 people in about 5 days without any inducements; that’s unheard of in our industry.

image Then there was The World is Flat (available on Amazon) which explains that customers want to crowd source from subject matter experts anywhere in the world.  So languages had to be built into the user experience from day 1, with the ability to add and maintain languages in real time.

Frequently updating multi-lingual software would mean encountering QA issues so we knew that quality had to be built in from day one and quality doesn’t happen by accident. So new methodologies, new processes, new tools, team education and new product owners were employed to be part of the solution.

So those were the design criteria: crowdsourcing items from SMEs, run 24 x 7, update with new feature every 30 days, make the user experience delightful and multi-lingual from day 1, support top 20 languages (including Arabic and Chinese) within a year, and be free. And the team has done an amazing job with the architecture, implementation and deployment.  You’ll love it.

If you are a:

  • Customer – go to the web site and enjoy Questionmark Live for free!
    Link to Questionmark Live and our Customer Care team is always there to support you.
  • Partner or other stakeholder – enjoy being part of a winning team
  • Competitor – give up now – resistance is futile!

I hope you enjoyed this little story behind the story!

May 22, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Belgium Breakfast Briefing

IMG_0254 Another fun day but this time with our Belgium customers. 

As I travel around I learn so much about the different processes for creating, delivering and reporting on assessments.  I feel very lucky to have so many people share their ideas with me.  I can’t wait to have some quiet time to distill this all into a paper that might be useful for our community.  Wish me luck in finding that time soon.

IMG_0256Amongst the 30 or so customers we had KU Leuven (oldest university in Europe looking after about 70,000 students) and SWIFT (the banking network that handles most inter-bank money transfer messages) present. 

I am constantly impressed by the innovation, creativity and the attention to detail of our customers and today was no exception. 

Hopefully some of our friends will be posting some of their solutions to the wiki. So watch out for field validation with jquery, new integrations and jsmath solutions.


And it wouldn’t be fun unless we shared a great photograph of  our “Questionmark Angeles”!

Now off to Paris for even more fun!   Au Revoir!

May 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

London Breakfast Briefing

imageIt’s Wednesday it must be London! 

Today we’re presenting to about 60 customers, and a few prospects, at the Microsoft briefing center in the Westminster/Victoria area of London.  This area is close to Buckingham Palace and was my “territory” when I was a service engineer in my 20’s.  I used to fix banking terminals in this area when a 5 Mbyte drive was the size of a filing cabinet! 

It was nice to be back in the neighborhood and seeing my old banks still there but with probably more processing power and memory in their back office than their data center had all those years ago!

imageAs you know I enjoy these interactions with our customers and this was was fun with lots of questions and great discussions.  SAP presented their solution (Questionmark Perception and SAP LSO) for learning and certifications.  This was wonderful to listen to after spending 2 years coaching through a number of activities for that solution.

And after my “thinking time in the desert”, I’ve been working on new ways of expressing the assessments in the learning process and it was great to be with experienced professionals to discover what resonates and what doesn’t.  More about that after I test these ideas in Brussels, Paris and some other folks around the world.

P.S. Now we’re off to Brussels for our Questionmark User Symposium. And I’m sorry that I didn’t get many pictures today at this briefing but I was distracted with so many people to learn from.

May 13, 2009 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Questionmark Breakfast Briefing in Manchester, UK

IMG_0218Made it to Manchester to be a part of the Breakfast Briefing, rolling out new Questionmark products and services and soliciting feedback from customers and prospects.  I always enjoy these sessions; the one-on-one sessions are really insightful.

The other benefit of these events is that I get to meet our “Questionmarkers” and soak up their enthusiasm and stories from the trenches. I couldn’t do this job without them because they inspire me, educate me, and they are the ones that actually do the work!

Here are a couple of photographs from the hotel’s observatory lounge where we held the briefing:



And today I signed the contracts for the 2009 Questionmark European User Conference, but I’ll let the marketing team roll out that announcement.  

May 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

As Learning and Assessment Professionals What Could We Have Done to Prevent the Financial Crisis

As I prepare my various presentations for our Questionmark Users Conferences in Memphis, Tennessee in the context of an economic downturn but a thriving assessment market I can’t help thinking about how we as learning and assessment professionals could have done more to prevent the economic crisis.

A radical thought but take this journey with me.  The current crisis stems from:

  • Unethical behaviors in the mortgage sales process
    • Where were our regulators?  Did they know what they were meant to be doing? Were they assessed?
    • Were these mortgage brokers tested on ethics?
    • Was the chain of command trained on how to spot and prevent fraud and deceptive practices?
    • Do our certification methodologies need to move into the 21st century? We have so many tools to raise people’s levels of consciousness and thereby their accountability. But are we using them as effectively as we could?
  • Lack of Consumer Education
    • Businesses are out to make money. Credit helps us borrow against our future in order to have something now but borrowing excessively causes stress while making others wealthy. How many borrowers fail to understand this and why?
    • I wish I had learned fiscal responsibility earlier on in my life. Did I miss that class at school or college or did someone forget to put that into the curriculum?
    • Should/could there be elearning courses and assessments that could be part of the lending process to ensure that consumers are competent to take on their responsibilities?
  • Lack of understanding of new (unstable) financial instruments (e.g. Credit Default Swaps)
    • It seems to me that the financial instruments, or weapons of mass financial destruction, were poorly understood.  We don’t let children play with fireworks for very good reasons!  Many good people’s financial future has been wrecked by financial expert’s incompetence.
    • Just as we don’t let our pilots fly complex machines without educating them and testing them I don’t think that we should have amateurs pretending that they understand these complex instruments.
    • Is there any process to confirm that complex financial instruments are understood by the people who construct and trade them? Are they competent?
    • As assessment professionals we know that when someone says “Trust me I know” it often means that they don’t!
    • Should there have been more effective learning around these financial instruments?
    • Should they have tested to see if they had sufficient competence to play the high-risk financial games that they were playing?
  • C level executives exposing their organizations to unacceptable levels of risk
    • Some organizations were so focused on training and certifying new employees being on-boarded to handle their growing businesses that they forgot about educating and assessing middle managers and above.
    • I’m CEO of Questionmark.  I go on training courses. I do tests. I have to take our internal tests.
    • Should we not have batteries of test instruments to confirm that our C levels have the business understanding and ethics to run the organizations (banks, etc) that we as a society depend on?

Okay, so you now get what I’m talking about and you get where I am going!

So Learning and Assessment professionals stand up and be counted!  You have knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that can help us learn from recent experiences and help prepare us for a more ethical and stable future.  Your organization employs you for your expertise and so I ask that you use your knowledge and skills to help and benefit us all.

Anyone that knows me gets that I am passionate about assessments and I love learning. I especially love learning from our customers.  At this year’s User Conference I’d love to learn what we could have done to prevent the unethical/uneducated behaviors and questionable practices that led us on this journey of mass financial destruction not to agonize over what has happened but to help our profession be a part of the solution.

Lets make a difference and stand up for our profession!

March 28, 2009 at 3:37 pm 6 comments

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